President Biden visited the southern border in Brownsville, Texas, on Thursday, and was joined by a number of top officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but Vice President Kamala Harris was not among them.

Biden spoke in Brownsville after meeting with Border Patrol, law enforcement and local leaders. He urged Republicans to back a bipartisan Senate bill that he believes will help solve the raging crisis at the southern border.

“It’s real simple, it’s time to act, it is long past time to act,” the president said. “It’s time for us to move on this, we can’t wait any longer.”


But the vice president, who was tasked in 2021 with leading the diplomatic outreach to tackle the “root causes” of migration, was not there. 

The administration had initially leaned firmly into the root-causes narrative in early 2021, claiming that those causes – which include climate change, violence, poverty and economic insecurity – were driving migration to the U.S. border. Its answer, therefore, was to engage with governments and to invest in targeting those causes, eventually bringing migration down. 

The assignment quickly led to Harris being dubbed the “border czar” – a title the White House rejected, stressing instead that it was more to do with international engagement. She would go on to visit the border in El Paso in June 2021 after facing pressure.

As part of that effort, Harris has been attempting to rally private-sector investment to the region via a Call to Action – particularly into the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. 

“First, I do believe most people don’t want to leave home. They don’t want to leave their grandmother. They don’t want to leave the place where they worship and the community that they’ve always known,” Harris said in 2022. “And so, when they do, it is usually for one of two reasons: They are fleeing harm, or to stay means they simply cannot satisfy their basic needs or the needs of their family.”

A year ago, Harris announced an additional $950 million in response to the Call to Action, bringing in a total of more than $4.2 billion since May 2021.

But since then, her public role only appears to have continually shrunk, even amid a historic year for illegal immigration, with more than 2.4 million migrant encounters in FY 23. FY 24 has been similarly overwhelming, with over 300,000 encounters in December.

Harris was not part of the border tour on Thursday, nor was she part of a delegation to Mexico City in December with Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In that meeting, the two countries, according to a White House readout, “reaffirmed their existing commitments on fostering an orderly, humane, and regular migration.” 

“This includes reinforcing our partnership to address the root causes of migration, such as poverty, inequality, and violence, and for the two countries’ initiative for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans,” it said.

Yet, despite the discussions on root causes, Harris was not in attendance. Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment. 

The L.A. Times recently reported that Harris will meet with new Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo in Washington to announce more private-sector investment.


But root causes, while still on the agenda, have appeared to be less of a focus for the administration in its border strategy — in part because the migration surge has increasingly been coming from countries coming outside of the Northern Triangle, including from Venezuela, Nicaragua and China.

The administration is now focused on passing the Senate border bill, which has bipartisan support but has struggled to gain enough support to pass due to conservative opposition. The bill includes additional funding for staffing at the border, funding for cities and NGOs, as well as rules tightening asylum and a mechanism to shut down entries when they reach a certain level. Conservatives say it would codify an unnecessarily high level of illegal entries.

Harris has put out a statement calling for Congress to pass the bill earlier this month.

“Let us remember: we are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have always helped strengthen our country, grow our economy, and drive innovation. We know that in America, diversity is our strength,” she said. “So rather than politicize this issue, let us all address it with the urgency and seriousness it requires.”